By Grace Bertrand
If you look up at the sky you may not be able to see it, but the air that you’re breathing in is heavily polluted with carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The Earth’s atmosphere is rapidly becoming more polluted each day by motor vehicles, industrial facilities, forest fires and several other factors.
Data from the World Health Organization shows that almost all of the global population, which is about 99.82%, breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits and contains high levels of pollutants. This means that less than 1% of Earth has safe levels of air pollution.
What does that mean for us? For starters, our air quality has become increasingly worse each decade. In 2022 alone, the U.S. received about 66 million tons of pollution into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Most of us won’t see the effect until much later in life. However, older relatives who may have a harder time breathing than most will suffer the consequences sooner rather than later. Air pollution can affect lung development and targets more people with existing respiratory issues such as asthma. The United Nations Environment Programme reported that air pollution accounts for an estimated seven million premature deaths every year.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a problem that is just going to go away. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicted that global greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase by 50% by 2050, meaning more air pollution, more deaths and more severe consequences than what is happening right now.
So, what can we do to help? Although it is ultimately up to the lawmakers of our nation to make better policies regarding our environment, people’s everyday decisions can have a bigger impact than we think.
Planting more trees, avoiding using gas-powered equipment and choosing to drive more environment-friendly vehicles or reduce the number of trips you take in your car are just some of the few ways you can help reduce air pollution in your daily life.
Air pollution is inevitable but trying our best to keep the air we breathe as clean as we can will ultimately lead to a more promising future for our generation and further generations to come.